Kindergarten-Grade 4-In this disappointing effort, Seibold uses bits and pieces of Lewis Carroll's original text, but the story has been so severely abridged that the narrative is disrupted and the remaining scenes seem disconnected and illogical. For example, the action abruptly shifts from Alice finding the bottle labeled "drink me" to her being stuck inside the Rabbit's house, without any explanation of how her size was altered or how she came to be there. The choppy text is not helped by the numerous typefaces employed; the constant change in colors is distracting and some of the fonts are difficult to decipher. Mixing shades of olive green, mustard yellow, and sherbet orange, the spreads are packed with color and action. The faces of the characters are stylized and have a flat appearance that is a bit disconcerting. Some of the pop-ups work better than others. There are a few clever effects, such as when a pull-tab brings down a piece of murky plastic that covers all of the Cheshire cat except his smile. If you need to have your Alice in 3-D form, stick with Robert Sabuda's version (Little Simon, 2003), an adaptation with beautifully composed illustrations, flawlessly engineered pop-ups, and a carefully edited text that evokes the flavor and flow of the original.
Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal
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Reviewed with Robert Sabuda's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
What is it about Alice? This season two well-known children's book creators have tackled the challenge of shoehorning Alice's Adventures in Wonderland into pop-up books only six spreads long. Larded with dioramas, flaps, and other displays of paste-and-paper bravura, both versions are likely to create buzz among Alice collectors and aficionados of movable books. But the two renditions of the same story could hardly be more different.
Seibold's "super dimensional" Alice, which he both designed and illustrated, plunges children into a psychedelic universe straight out of the Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit." It features Carroll's original text in brief, cherry-picked excerpts, so the finished product is more a series of interpretive highlights than a thorough presentation of the story, and the rococo, tough-to-decipher typeface adds to the impression that the book is meant to be viewed, not read. Seibold's trademark palette of beiges and pea greens, and a slightly grotesque Alice with Ronald McDonald clown feet, seem to dare readers to prefer Disney's prettiness or Tenniel's Victorian placidity. The pops conceived by Seibold and paper engineer James R. Diaz are a lot of fun. Each spread contains a dizzying array of devices and effects, including a particularly clever rendering of the vanishing Cheshire cat. In the end, however, all of this somehow seems less the point than the book's air of hipster irony.
The version by Sabuda, creator of a previous pop-up adaptation of a classic, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (2000), cleaves more closely to the original; its full-color artwork is "in John Tenniel's classic style," and the abridged text, cleverly tucked into minibooks on each spread, is fairly comprehensive. It's also the more successful of the two, partly because this faithfulness preserves the contrast between the drawing-room politeness of Tenniel's illustrations and the lunacy of Carroll's imaginings. Where the pops in Seibold's version creak open a bit grudgingly and sometimes need a hand from the reader to work properly, Sabuda's don't pop so much as gracefully unfurl--and then collapse upon themselves with jaw-dropping ease that leaves one flipping the pages back and forth in amazement. Few readers will peep through the expandable tube that simulates Alice's tumble down the rabbit hole, or admire the closing spread's intricately die-cut, gravity-defying arc of playing cards, without feeling a bit bereft when the adventure comes to an end. This will very likely come to be seen as the definitive pop-up version of Alice, but it will also further establish Sabuda as the foremost visionary of the genre. Jennifer Mattson
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